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The Guild



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Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:03 pm
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Featherstone says...



~The Guild~


Image

No one knows how long they've been there. As far as anyone knows it's been there since ancient times. Some even venture so far as to say it's been since tribal ones. It's been called many things - a cult, a gang, even a drug cartel. They prefer to go by a simpler, less daunting name, however: the Guild.

Perhaps you're a new member, or maybe you've been there since you were young. Maybe you stumbled in on it by accident or you could've sought them out. You might've been a thief, a mercenary, even a drug dealer, but now, you're the same thing as everyone else in this brotherhood of criminals: an assassin. It doesn't matter who you work for or where you've been because, no matter what, you kill people for money. It could've been greed that brought you there or maybe it's just where life led you. None of it is of consequence. The Guild doesn't care about your origins or your past. They only care that you abide by their law.

The Setting

It's a savage justice system, but a simple one. There are three rules, and only three. The first is that nothing is illegal if you don't get caught. The second is no infighting within any of the Guild's many safeholds or on Guild land of any kind. The last is, perhaps, the most important of them all. It is the golden rule, the only honor your kind possess: one must never, ever, break a contract. The moment a signature is left on the page or two hands meet in acknowledgement of a deal the deed is done and you will die fulfilling that agreement. If they don't find out, it's not breaking the rules, of course - that's what the first of the three rules states. But they will. They always do, and those who make the mistake of trying to get away with breaking Guild law never last very long and it's rare more than a few scraps of skin, bone, or bloodstains are found. Sometimes they just disappear without a trace.

Don't be fooled, however. They suffered before they died even if there were no ears close enough to hear their screams.

It was originally made as a place for individuals of such a particular expertise to have a safe place to return to and to find work. Soon, however, it became as safe haven for "others" - the supernatural. Vampires, demons, angels, undead, mancers, gifted. You name it, they've been through the Guild at one time or another, whether they're from Heaven or Hell or some place Between.

Over time it grew and now, in the present day, on Earth, there's bases in every major city of the world, and safeholds are found in smaller villages. The Guild conveys such locations through codewords and symbols. More often than not the places look mundane and unnoticeable but in some major cities, such as Las Vegas, the bases may be found in much flashier buildings - casinos, for example.

The Story

The Reapers have always been well known by the Guild. Most members have seen them one time or another, whatever form they take. They're who come and collect the souls of the dead. Many who have been through war, work in hospitals, or do work like the Guild does have seen them once or twice. Usually they keep their presence somewhat hidden but it's always there. And, after a time, most assassins learn to feel it.

They also have an affinity for death. They sense it like scavenging creatures, flock to it like crows to a battlefield. They have to, to have made a living at this job for as long as they have. This also means that they recognize Reapers even when they've taken a human guise. Normally, this doesn't mean much. Every once and a while an assassin will encounter a Reaper and then keep on living life until it finally comes for them.

Recently, however, there's been more, and this means only one thing: death is coming. A massacre, a slaughter, a war, something.

This isn't a concern for the assassins. Well, not usually, anyways. This time, however, Sly - the face of the Guild - has decided to take action. He's summoned five of the very best of the Guild for a very particular job funded by the organization itself. A very, very important one, with a single, simple goal.

Closing the Gates of Hell itself.

The Characters

Most of the Guild's members have three things that make every assassin a proper assassin. A professional. The first is a name, an alias, typically after an animal, item, or attribute - like Viper, Diamond, or Sly. The second is a mask. It can be any kind, really: plain and simple or elaborate and unique, so long as it covers some part the face. The last is a signature. They way they kill, or something they left. So, too, do the characters.

Characters may have supernatural abilities as well. This can range from being part demon or angel, being a 'gifted' - someone's whose abilities are derived from a divine gift granted to them by a deity or mystical being - or having natural magic. This last category is a diverse group known only as 'mancers.' They could be necromancers, geomancers, pyromancers, aquamancers, umbramancers, or any other of a plethora of mancer types. All mancers are elemental.

There are six open roles for the protagonists. The sniper is pretty self-explanatory - a specialist of ranged combat, accuracy and precision over speed and mass damage. The Saboteur is probably the most charismatic of the group and they're skilled at infiltration, deception, and seduction: this is the one who's most equipped to hide in the open and to get what they need right out from under the enemy's nose. The brains is the operator of the group - a hacker, scientist, or similar role (or maybe even a mix!). The Support is the medic of the team, and probably also the heart; they know how to heal people and may also end up as the emotional/moral support of the group. The Executioner is similar to the Sniper in that they specialize in the kill but they're pros at melee, close range, and/or run-and-gun combat.

The Sniper: @TinkerTwaggy
The Saboteur: @Magestorrow
The Brains: @Featherstone
The Support: @fraey

Character Profiles:
Please delete anything in parentheses.
Spoiler! :
Code: Select all
[b]Role:[/b]
[b]Name:[/b]
[b]Alias:[/b]
[b]Age:[/b]
[b]Species/Power Origin (demon/angel/vampire/half-breed/etc. or gifted/mancer type):[/b]
[b]Gender & Pronouns:[/b]
[b]Up For Romance? (if so, include their sexuality, please):[/b]
[b]Physical Description (what their normal day-to-day look is):[/b]
[b]Assassin Description (including their mask, any particular weapons/attire):[/b]
[b]Weapons:[/b]
[b]Signature:[/b]
[b]Physical Skills (proficiency at certain kinds of combat, hacking, etc.):[/b]
[b]Magical Abilities:[/b]
[b]Personality:[/b]
[b]Flaws:[/b]
[b]Other:[/b]


Last edited by Featherstone on Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed on the world."
~ W.B. Yeats


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Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:32 pm
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Featherstone says...



~ Diamond ~

by @Featherstone
Spoiler! :
phpBB [media]

The lighter clicked as fire blossomed at its top and danced against the cigarette held in Diamond's fingers, smoke rising in the still Vegas air. She raised it to her lips and breathed the smoke back out of her nostrils, starting down the street with her usual swagger. The dim orange glow pierced the shadows of the sidewalk. Lights flashed over the doorways of gaudy, extravagant casinos and signs flashed dollar signs and words like "luck," "win," and "millions." She'd seen it all before, time and time and time again.

But she'd never lost her love for it. The music, the flashing lights, but, most of all, the mischief. The underworld of gangs and combat and oh so many jobs. It was paradise for someone that lived off of such disagreements.

Gray ash hit the dusty cement as she dropped the butt of her cigarette onto the ground and crushed it under a heel before stepping into a narrow alley. A sleek, peculiar feline leaped off his dumpster perch and onto the ground upon her approach. He'd been there as long as Diamond could remember. Half white, half black, and with odd eyes - one was emerald where the other was a deep, striking violet. He was quite a looker. And, somehow, he managed to scrape out a living on the streets of Las Vegas just like the rest of them.

She strode past him and to a back door that had long since been camouflaged by the graffiti staining both its surface and the walls around it. Deafening swing hit her ears as she opened it and brilliant lights illuminated the night club's floors, flashing like lightning in the dark. A heavy baseline vibrated the ground beneath her and a smile danced across her lips as she made her way through the dance floor, spinning and letting her feet go with the music.

"When you hit the dance floor, you gotta be Jumpin' Jack.
Jump on in, jump with your baby!"


Her heels struck the ground with the ease of long practice as she moved with the rhythm. The wild, rocking dance of speed and adrenaline, that pressed agility and endurance to the edge. Just like the game she lived in day in and day out.

"Like a wild train rollin' right down your track,
Wow, wow you just can't stop it!"


A final twist and she hit the stairs, quickly stepping down them and going to the masked figure at the door. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, give my soul unto Hell I must," she recited and the man stepped aside to let her enter.

Diamond slipped into the corridor, still humming to the music that was now fading into the background as she descended into the shadows.

"Like a wild train rollin' right down your track,
Wow, wow, watch it, watch it!"


~**~


Her room was as plain and simple as it'd always been. A bed sat in the corner and a desk was across the room with her laptop on it. Beside the laptop was a pale white square - something unfamiliar.

She raised an eyebrow and picked it up. Diamond, it read, in a swirling, neat cursive. Sly's handwriting. She'd recognize it anywhere.

Intrigued, Diamond opened it. A plane ticket fell out and landed on the desk - a plane ticket to San Francisco that departed the the next evening at 7 o'clock and a slip that reserved a hotel for the following day.

Diamond,

The Guild calls on your services once again. 6 o'clock pm in the city by the bay in three days' time - you know the place, I'm sure. Do be punctual and don't be bitter. Say I'm calling in a favor.

Cardinal, Wraith, Esper, and Runi will be there as well, so please don't shoot any of them.

Thank you, darling. You know what to do with this.

Пепел к пеплу, пыль к пыли.

Sly


She smiled a little as she saw his last words in her native tongue. What a sweetheart. She pulled out her lighter and burned the letter. This was exciting - something new, something different, and probably something dangerous.

Diamond's gaze fell on the featureless, crystalline mask that stared back with its lifeless, hollow eye-holes, and she let herself grin. Oh boy. This was going to be absolutely terrific.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed on the world."
~ W.B. Yeats


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Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:18 pm
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Magestorrow says...



Darunia Vain

Saboteur

Note to future self: when a hotel room is advertised as haunted, it might be a better idea to play things safe and get a different one instead of spending the night there.

Runi hadn't put much stock into the story being told about the string of unsolved murders that had happened in Room 66 over the years – it had seemed like something out of a TV show and not real life. While there had been murders there, most had happened before the age of modern forensics; they wouldn't have been able to do much in the way of deducing if there was little tangible evidence. Then there was the matter of the room number. Everyone was convinced it had something to do with an angry demon. Runi found that quite rude, and also found it to be bullshit because the room wasn't actually Room 66 – it was Room 67. The original Room 66 had been one over, but it had been turned into a storage closet a couple decades back.

So.

She hadn't exactly seen a problem with booking a stay there.

But now it was two in the morning, and, despite the room having been rather warm when she went to bed hours ago, she could see her breath in the air.

Worse, there was a dead woman standing on the end of her bed.

Runi let out a groan and hid her face behind her pillow. “I'm not here,” she informed the ghost, but the lady was still standing there when she tentatively peeked out. “I'm trying to get some sleep!” she shouted. The ghost didn't respond, but that was probably because her head was in her heads. Eech. Decapitation. She hadn't seen one in quite some time, and forgot how disturbing seeing the blurt spurt out of the neck's veins could be.

Runi sighed and got to her feet.

“I'm going into the bathroom now,” Runi said, giving the ghost a look. “You better not be here when I get out.”

The ghost's gaze never left her as she stormed into said bathroom and slammed the door behind her. She didn't think the ghost was all that violent, but she was fairly annoyed at having lost precious sleep less than a day after a very tiring assassination. When she got back out several minutes later, the ghost had disappeared, leaving a nice drop of blood on her pristine white sheets.

“Oh, come on!” Runi exclaimed, dropping her voice down to a whisper when she remembered that the people in the rooms around her were trying to get some sleep. “Now it's going to look like I bled all over this. Wonderful. If they charge me extra, I'll...I'll...” She wasn't quite sure how to finish that threat. She wasn't too good at threats in general, but this was especially hard because she technically couldn't touch or harm the ghost.

She let out one last groan before returning to sleep.

xXx

When she awoke the next morning, she found herself looking at a nice white envelope on the hotel room's desk. It said her name in fancy cursive letters. It was only when she realized that there wasn't really any normal explanation for how it had gotten there while she had been asleep that she realized it had come from The Guild. Ah. That explained why her nickname was on it instead of her full name, then.

Curiosity gnawing at her, she eagerly opened up the envelope.

Inside was a letter, a plane ticket and a hotel reservation slip. She pocketed the last two items, and read the first. She made sure to put it all to memory. She was great at evading trouble when necessary, but she decided to be careful and burn it. The letter wasn't anything too special – she didn't know Sly all that well, despite having worked for him for a time. It was the contents that intrigued her. Diamond. Cardinal. Wraith. Esper. She recognized all of their names, of course, but had barely held more than a conversation with each one of them in the past. Thinking about the past made her mind trail off, and she soon found herself thinking of things other than getting out of this hotel room as soon as possible.

When was the last time she had been asked to do something with a group? It wasn't that she had a thing against being in one, but the people she worked with tended to complain about her cooperation afterwards. She could get the job done all right, but just tended to turn the others off.

Huh.

It must have been something important if she was being asked to do something with four other people.

As the ashes of the letter fell into the trash can, Runi cast one last glance at the bed and at the little bloodstain left by the ghost. “If I ever come back here,” she declared, hoping that it was still sticking around and just hiding, “I'm definitely not staying in your room.”

Then she packed up her belongings and left.

It was time for a new adventure.
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fraey says...



Cardinal


by @concord

Spoiler! :
phpBB [media]



The sun crawled up from the horizon as Cardinal scaled an old apartment complex. She didn’t live there, but the gray-and-white striped building had some of the best views in the small town. Losing track of the day turned into one of her favorite pastimes, especially in the sun-scorched town of Prescott, Arizona.

The dark-haired woman smiled once she reached the tiled roof. Cardinal laid her head on a pole and stretched out her limbs. She felt tempted to go in the air herself, by the couple of birds that flew all around her. She didn't need to attract any more attention though since her status as a random passerby raised a few eyebrows when she first arrived a week ago.

Her eyes caught a red-tailed hawk that was perched on the roof as well. The raptor stood proud, with its eyes fixed on what probably was its next meal. She frowned at seeing a string tied around an intricate talon. The bird screeched a moment later as if her attention was detected.

Thinking of nothing better to do, Cardinal approached the raptor. The object secured to its limb was a seemingly non-descript envelope, entitled to her, of all people. She stretched out a hand slowly so as to not startle the hawk. It shifted its footing and moved its beak as if it felt impatient by her slow movements.

She rolled her eyes at her thoughts. She may be named after a bird, but she couldn't pretend to know their language. At last her hand grabbed the letter, so she untied the small note before freeing the hawk from its so-called package. Once she grabbed the paper, the raptor screeched, spread its brown-and-red wings, and took off.

Hawks were impressive creatures, Cardinal mused in its wake. She glanced down at the paper between her fingers. There was only one person who took pride in finding ways of pointing out her assassin name, and who was smart enough to do such a feat.

Sly.

She opened the letter to be met with words that proved her right.

Cardinal,

Hope that this letter finds you in good health and that the hawk was an added bonus. You're practically family, aren't you?

Anyways, you have an assignment. Come to the location on that ticket within three days.

Don't be shocked when you see a few of the others: Wraith, Esper, Runi, and Diamond, to name them.

Be there at six. There's a ticket in here. as well as the hotel you'll be staying at.

Until then,

Sly.


Two other pieces of paper shifted in the envelope, which was a ticket to San Francisco, and a note about the hotel.

Cardinal hummed. She supposed it had been plenty of time since her last assignment. She was curious as to why so many of them were contracted to one request, but they were all good assassins in their own way.

She supposed the mystery would be revealed sooner than later, anyway. All she had to do was wait.

Cardinal leaped down from the building. She had a few things to pack, so she figured she could start now.
also concord/killeham/perks.
farewell, once, amidst a wave.





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TinkerTwaggy says...



Esper – Swing an’ sparks




Esper: Hey, Sparky! You up?

Sparky: Hmmm… This random booty call suggests that you’re only using it to rile up my hormones, and therefore get my attention again.

Esper: Well, it does work all the time. Surprisingly more effective than actual “love”.

Sparky: Aight, we get it, you’re an opportunistic scumbag ad proud to be. So, what’s up?

Esper: *And. Yeah, found another pack of thugs trying to wolf down some family relics. Followed their trail to a local auction house, and clearly, they’re about to win and leave. I need backup.

Sparky: You sure? You know I’m not helpin’ ya without a reward.

Esper: I mean, booty call aside, you’re covered on the money department and… pretty much everything else, reward-wise.

Sparky: WHAT DO YOU MEAN “BOOTY CALL ASIDE”?! YOUR BUTT IS LITERALLY THE ONLY REASON WE’RE STILL FRIENDS!

Esper: ...Can’t tell if that’s sad, funny, depressing or a bit of all three.

Sparky: Just for that, I’m gonna smooch you so hard when I save your butt that you’re gonna wish I saved you all the time.

Esper: Only if you nail a superhero landing and/or surprise attack. It's part of your job, right?

Sparky: Oh, YOU GOT YOURSELF A DEAL. Send me the coordinates, I’ll be right there.

Esper: I’ll buy you some time, then.

Sparky: You do that. Don’t die.

Esper shook his head. She just had to make it cute, didn’t she? He decided against replying and placed his phone back in his pocket, focusing on the auction again. A simple “you too” would’ve sealed the dialogue, but “caring” was simply not Esper’s style, for the most part – and she’d tease him for that anyway.
Well… being a trained assassin certainly had something to do with that philosophy.
At any rate, Esper put on his trademark mask and waited on top of the building he had chosen to stay on, unaffected by the cool air of the cloudless night. It didn’t take long before, far away from his position, a door opened, revealing eight silhouettes coming out of another building’s backdoor. They were, of course, his targets – a group of people that simply called themselves The Wolvers. Though Esper didn’t know much about them, he did know that they had been buying several artifacts that were previously owned or created by the Fangrith family, and they didn’t like other people messing around with their magic toys, even if they had been abandoned.
Which, of course, left the little bastard prince to clean up the mess – a fitting task for a half-human, half-golem child, as usual.

Beep!

Esper frowned and took his phone from his pocket, putting it in Silent Mode – though not before reading the message he had just received.

Sparky: On my way. Artillery ready. Don’t break your butt.

Esper rolled his eyes and giggled. Okay, so, maybe she deserved a little bit of care for the phrasing of that.

Esper: Confirmed. Engaging enemy. You better nail that superhero surprise thing. Reward’s not gonna smooch itself.

Sparky: <3

Esper placed his phone back in his pocket and rapidly assembled his sniper rifle, methodically taking out every piece from his backpack. It was time to work.


******



The first bullet hit the bull’s ye – one of the people that had come out of the building fell on the ground, as if a violent lightning bolt had struck it, blowing up its head in the process. The other figures became very agitated and started looking around. It proved to be a mistake, for a second head blew up seconds after the first one, followed by yet another body falling on the ground.
But when Esper tried to fire a third time, his bullet bounced away from the group. He frowned, then realized what happened: The Wolvers had set up a barrier. An actual, magical barrier.

They know their stuff. Esper thought to himself as he moved away from his spot, rapidly jumping down a set of stairs on the side of the building. Didn’t think they’d have a barrier… Gotta get closer. He ran across the empty narrow streets, gun in hand. He had already placed a scope atop the weapon, as he fully expected to have to fight them physically. He wasn’t sure if he had time to move much against six people.

Stay sharp. Esper encouraged himself. You sent your location to a powerful Phantom Thief. She’s trained to steal and destroy in a flashy fashion. You are an assassin, trained to kill efficiently. Do what you have to do until she gets here to do what she does best. Multiple noises reached his ears: he identified them as rapid footsteps and grunts, which showed that his targets were still in a state of panic. They had moved towards an abandoned fountain, which itself was placed in a circular area in between surrounding buildings. Then, just as Esper silently arrived, hiding himself behind one of the building to plan his next move, a side of the building’s wall suddenly blew up, very closer to Esper’s location.

...Oh. They have a detection specialist. Esper took a second to register what had happened, then immediately ran towards the fountain, putting a hand in his pocket as his black-colored outfit became fully visible by the moonlight’s glare. In front of him stood six humanoid figures of about the same, towering height. They all wore the same steel gray-colored trench coat alongside a hat of the same color, gloves, brown pants and black shoes. They also wore an expressionless metallic mask that engulfed their entire heads, with eerily staring yellow eyes that shone in the surrounding darkness. One of them locked his gaze at Esper, while another left the protection of their barrier in a swift, impossibly fast dashing motion. Its second hand was engulfed in some sort of metallic, dog-shaped arm-cannon, from which a spear-like blade came out. With equally inhumane speed, Esper sidestepped as his enemy passed, then rapidly pointed his gun at its head and fired. Immediately, a blue light surrounded the figure’s body, deflecting the bullet.

So, the force-field protects them even when they’re outside of its perimeter. There must be a limit to that. Esper opened his free hand: the material pellet he had taken earlier expanded and immediately turned his hand into a much larger, clawed, open palm. The enemy barely had time to turn back before being struck by Esper’s new hand, then propelled several meters away. Esper swiftly turned back to face the five other figures, just as a wave of apple-sized, round energy bullets appeared in his line of sight. But already, his hand had transformed from a giant claw hand to a giant war fan, blocking the bullets with ease. Its size then decreased as Esper fired two more bullets at the force-field. They were once again deflected, yet his previous physical attack had successfully gone through.

Focus on physical attacks. Three bullets wasted – twelve left. A sudden “whoosh” came to Esper’s ears – he sidestepped once more, just as the target he had previous struck down appeared again, having dashed to pierce his chest with its dog-shaped arm-cannon. The enemy skidded on the ground, performing a flawless turn to face Esper yet again. At this moment, he realized that all the figures in front of him had their right hand engulfed in the same arm-cannon, something that he didn’t gave himself time to notice before.

They’re all dressed the same... If they move around too much, I’ll have trouble keeping count. Gotta keep them grouped together and take down that barrier. Just as he finished his thought, a new bullet struck the force-field. Esper smiled behind his mask: his little trick had finally been set. One of the figures looked upward, in the direction from which the bullet had come. It was potentially the one able to generate the magical protection, attempting to guess where the new sniper was located – not knowing that Esper had simply left one of his golem in his previous location alongside his own sniper rifle, having deliberately stepped in to fight the enemies head-on so that the golem could aim better.

Esper put his gun back in his holster and rapidly took another material pellet in his hand. At the same time, the dashing enemy rushed at him once more, its spear-like blade directed at his lung. Esper moved slightly away from the attack and let the weapon pierce his shoulder. Then, both of his hands turned into larger versions of themselves, which Esper used to strike the enemy’s head with such strength that it flattened with a strangely mechanical noise.

One down. Guess I’m fighting robots. One of the two material pellets disappeared within Esper’s palm and immediately, Esper’s wound disappeared, replaced by perfectly normal skin. Now that they knew that Esper could regenerate from physical damage, he expected them to use projectiles – and evidently, Esper’s hunch was correct. Two of the robotic figures pointed their arm-cannons at him. Esper took out yet another material pellet and ran towards his foes. One of the robots shot a beam of concentrated light, whereas the other fired a wave of bullets instead.

Now!
Esper stopped his race and crouched on the ground just as the muscles of his legs grew wider. He tapped a foot on the ground to take momentum (leaving a deep mark on said ground as he did so) and jumped above the projectiles, landing right in the middle of the group, who had quickly moved away to evade his abnormally large foot. But at the last second, Esper’s leg returned to normal, whereas his right arm grew in size. He used it to attack the one robot that hadn’t moved. But unfortunately, a second, smaller force field blocked the attack. Esper, however, wasn’t done: using his second material pellet, he modified his arm once more, letting it grow tube-like structures atop the forearm. Similar to a jet booster, air was released by the tubes, and surely, Esper’s arm gained speed and momentum – enough to overpower the small shield, and finally hit the robot’s head, destroying it on impact.

Two down, no more defenses. Esper quickly turned back as his arm took its normal size again. Four enemies left, two of which could throw powerful projectiles at him. They’d be bound to become more careful, too. It wouldn’t be an easy battle, but it was certainly doable.

At least, that was what Esper had in mind before his eyes widened in utter surprise as the four enemies before him were engulfed in a loud, wide and bright purplish light that grew to form a small, shining dome. It instantly vaporized them, as well as a good portion of the ground on which they stood. In front of the dome landed a female figure wearing a dark blue, western-styled poncho decorated with green diamonds at its center. The poncho covered a dusty orange hoodie and, as the women dramatically rose from the ground to stare at the explosion, Esper could see that she wore brown pants and metallic yellow boots, with her left arm calmly gripping the end of what looked to be a purplish pink cannon.

She had finally arrived.

“I’ll never understand badasses.” Sparky began in a joyful tone as the explosion’s gales finished to tousle her hair. “I mean, sure, they can look cool by not staring at explosions an’ stuff, but man, are they missing out in the fireworks department.” She rapidly turned back as the side strands of shiny, messy brown hair briefly floated next to her green eyes. She flashed a grin as she casually placing a hand on her hips and used the other to lift her giant cannon, pointing at Esper’s face. “And, speaking of missing out!”

“Uh… Sparky?” Esper said. “What are you–”

BANG!” Sparky interrupted before an air bullet came out of her cannon and hit Esper’s mask, tearing it off his face with ease. When he opened his eyes – he didn’t even remember closing them – he was leaning besides the fountain where his enemies had previously stood. He had just the time to give an exasperated look to the approaching Sparky before she dropped her cannon on the ground, grabbed his collar with her newly free hand and proceeded to violently squash her lips against his.

“My room. Ten minutes.” Sparky concluded, after ending the contact seconds later. “Reward’s not gonna smooch itself, remember?”

“...Granted, that was a quality superhero landing, and a flawless surprise attack.” Esper graciously admitted with a smile. “Bonus points for dramatic timing. But, I have a batter option.” he slightly approached his face from hers. “My room. Ten minutes.”

Sparky’s eyes widened. “Oh my god, this isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening!”


******



“Yes! Yes! YES! This is happening!”

“You know, you almost ruined the night, repeating that and all.”

“I mean, I never got to smooch your butt in one of your rooms, so can you really blame me?”

Esper allowed himself a quick look on the side, gazing at Sparky’s happy figure, her naked arms still thrown up in victory as she stared back at him with that childish grin of hers. Slowly, he took a fold of their shared blanked to completely cover her chest, which instantly turned her smiling face into a confused frown.

“Uh…” Sparky’s frown deepened. “Like, thanks, but you know I don’t care, right?”

“Well yeah, but we’re done, so I’m back to being a well-educated prince that cares about etiquette about as much as his partner’s etiquette.”

“Or, I could just call it a pompous name for a pompous reflex.”

“Yes, but that would be mean.”

“Aw...” under the cover of the blanket, Sparky caressed Esper’s torso with deliberate slowness and left her hand there. “As if you didn’t deserve a bit of that from me. Grabbing your butt, now.”

“...Why.”

“Because when mankind still walked on all fours, they always had the butt in front of ‘em first. Then, we evolved, started walking on two legs, stopped having butts stuck in our faces all the time and got breasts instead. But the original heavenly beauty lies in – you guessed it! – the buttocks. So, between the copy or the original, I’d prefer to enjoy the original. Whatcha readin’?”

“Something that actually makes sense in this plane of existence.” Esper calmly replied. “...Though I must ask: as… terrifyingly weird as your theory is, wouldn’t it apply solely to men?”

“Oh, yeah, but we women got to stare at pecs instead, after the evolution happened.” Sparky nonchalantly added. “And they’re awesome, but still a half-baked copy of something far, far greater...”

Esper sighed. “Sometimes, I wonder what happened in your life that you’d end up being this way.”

Sparky fell silent, apparently genuinely thoughtful about her next choice of words. “See how the, uh, ‘power of love’ allows people to do or say really, really stupid things, for the sake of whatever they love?”

“Yeah?”

Sparky grinned once more. “I… loveeverything.”

“...” Esper moved the letter away from his eyes, staring at the ceiling as he attempted with all his might to suppress a laughter. “Okay, Sparky. I know I’ve said this to a lot of people before. Especially to manipulate them. But this time, I mean it: I think I might love you.”

“For the love thing, the butt thing or the lack of etiquette?”

Devious grin. “Yes.”

“...Wha… Oh, you freaking charmer. Play some music already and keep reading your thing, I wanna stalk, not smooch your everything again! Too soon for that!”

“That’s… not all we–”

“You know what I mean!”

“Point taken. Evening Dreamscape?”

“Oh, we’re doing video games? Then let’s do it! Evening Dreamscape! Part 2, because I mean it’s sexy.”

“Agreed.” Esper reached for a remote control placed atop a nightstand, and pressed a series of buttons. From a jukebox placed at the other side of the dimly lit room, a music began to invade the air as Esper focused his eyes back on the letter in his hand.

Spoiler! :
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Esper,

The Guild calls on your services once again. Meet us at 6 o’clock PM in the city by the bay. You have three days – though I’m sure you’ll use them well and wisely.


“Now that sounds like sarcasm.” Sparky commented, having approached her head to rest it on Esper’s shoulder. “D’you think he watched us plow?”

“Sparky, language, please.”

“Eh, can’t know it’s crude unless you know what it means.”

“That’s a no to your question, by the way.”

“And a solid yes to my comment. You may proceed!”

You know you can’t let your personal affairs interfere with this, so make sure you tell your family to sit this one out. I’m counting on your punctuality – not that I’ve had much complains on that front. For the rest, you know what to do.

And prepare your best weapons.

Sly.


“Unusually ominous...” Esper concluded, putting the letter aside. “Must be something big.”

“Pretty handwriting, too.” Sparky added. “I love that he bothered making it that personal. I suppose I can’t come, right?”

“You’re a phantom thief, not an assassin. Technically I should kill you for even reading this, and you should kill me for knowing you personally.”

“Eh. I could easily challenge even you at resisting torture, and I don’t really have anyone to tell. ‘Sides, we didn’t stop using the nicknames, so I’m good!”

“Obviously.” Esper put the letter next to the remote control and let a new smile decorate his face. “Now, then. I have three days. Whatever shall we do in the meantime? I, of course, am at your service, young la–”

“Put Evening Dreamscape on loop and lemme sleep for a bit.”

Esper blinked. “...Oh.”

Sparky frowned, looking into Esper’s eyes. “...Oh my god, you’re disappointed.” she realized. “You wanted us back to swingin’ right away.”

“I...”

“Welcome to my world, child! Didn’t think it was one you’d be willin’ to join any time soon!”

“But I...”

“I’ll close my eyes, now, I do not want to deal with your highness in its sad puppy state. Ciao!”

Esper remained frozen, unable to understand why it was always so hard to defeat Sparky in any kind of verbal jousting. It was like her brain was wired to dance around any form of influencing word he had in store. He let out a silent, disappointed sigh. Or any kind of action, for that matter.

“...You know, aside… that… I was actually looking forward to talking about your weapon.” Esper admitted. “I didn’t know your cannon doubled as a hovercraft.”

Eyes closed, Sparky rubbed her cheek against Esper’s shoulder, grinning anew. “I don’t tell you everything.” she whispered mysteriously. “Now, shush. We’ll talk about this later. You focus on recovering a bit more.”

Esper frowned. “...You noticed.”

“Of course I noticed, silly.”

“But I’m not that wounded, you know. You don't have to worry much, I didn't use that many material pellets yet.”

“Yes, but – and this next part is an order – don’t. Break. Your. Butt.”

Esper smiled along, placing an arm around Sparky’s shoulder. She just had to make it cute, didn’t she.
"Is there a limit to how much living I can live with my life? How will I know if I've gone too far?
And why did I spend my life savings on sunglasses for a whale?
I shall find the answer... to these questions."








I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
— Bilbo Baggins